Oregon Prepares to Fund Early Literacy Efforts


by CI Guest



Oregon is poised to distribute funds for early childhood learning and literacy. In 2023, lawmakers passed the Early Literacy Success Initiative, in part because only about half of the state’s students were proficient in reading through third grade. School districts have since applied for grants with the Oregon Department of Education and funds are expected soon.

Marina Merrill, director of research and strategy with the Children’s Institute, said the investments are exciting because brains develop faster in a person’s first eight years of life than at any other point.

“Those years are just so critical, especially that 90% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five. Yet most of our investments in young children start at age five,” she said.

Grant applications from more than 200 districts and charter schools have focused on building capacity for early literacy through professional development and coaching. The Children’s Institute is holding a webinar tomorrow about the state’s investments and evidence-based early learning practices.

Herb Turner, founder of ANALYTICA, will participate in the Children’s Institute webinar. He said evidence-based practices are ones that have been studied and shown to improve students’ outcomes, meaning they can be used with confidence in the classroom.

“Oregon deserves a lot of credit for taking this on and for creating this emphasis on evidence-based practices and strategies, and getting behind evidence-based reading initiatives,” he explained.

Cesiah Vega-Lopez, a pre-k teacher at the bilingual school Echo Shaw Elementary in Cornelius, outside Hillsboro, said she’s used different practices to teach literacy, such as highlighting each letter of the alphabet with an animal that starts with that letter, and added that this is a critical time for kids.

“For them to be able to have this knowledge early on really helps support their learning as they move on through their trajectory of school, especially as they move on to kindergarten. So I think the focus on them learning or being aware of language is very important in their overall development,” Vega-Lopez explained.


Disclosure: Children’s Institute contributes to Public News Service’s fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Health Issues.
This article was written by Eric Tegethoff and originally shared through Public News Service on May 21, 2024. The link can be found here.


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